"אבא או אמא?"
Translation:Dad or mom?
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Well, Hebrew doesn't write vowels most of the time, they're implied. Alef (א) is actually the sound of silence, followed by a vowel. For right now, you can just guess A and be right a lot of the time, but you'll get used to reading after a while. If it comes before a waw (vav, ו) it's O or U, like in או.
I was struggling to understand why "או" is pronounced "o". It says in the tips and notes that "א - Aleph" is silent and that "ו - Vav" is pronounced "v". However, I found this useful video which that "ו" can be pronounced "v", "o", and "u", which helps explain why it's pronounced "o".
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJUMyHR0zN4 I hope that helps and recommend giving some of the videos a watch.
I'm under the impression that all courses on a particular app. use the heart system. If you use your computer, or the computer function of your cell phone, you won't have to deal with the heart system. If you go into the "Tips" section, which one of the apps does not have, you will see charts explaining the pronunciation of the letters.
The natural way to spell "o" as a word is "או", so I'm not sure what you find strange here.
Having said that, in Arabic this word is pronounced with the diphthong a-u (as in English "how"). To take a wild guess (I'm not a linguist), in very ancient Hebrew or proto-semitic it was this diphthong, and then Hebrew (or some ancestor of it) contracted it to sound "o" as happens often in many languages (most "au"s in English, for example). That must have happened before the nikkud was invented in the 11th century.